AFC West Clash in KC

The San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs have been heading in different directions since their first meeting of the season in September.

The AFC West-leading Chargers look to continue their playoff push Sunday with a rare win in Kansas City as they face the stumbling Chiefs, who are not yet out of the playoff chase.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made San Diego -6 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 37.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 89% of bets for this game have been placed on San Diego -6 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

San Diego (6-5) lost 30-16 to Kansas City on Sept. 30 after allowing 24 unanswered second-half points. The defeat dropped the Chargers to 1-3, while the Chiefs improved to 2-2.

San Diego did not stay down for long, however, and its 32-14 win over Baltimore last Sunday was its fifth in seven games, moving it into sole possession of first place in the division.

"We're coming together. We're ready to rock,'' Chargers center Nick Hardwick said. "We know what we've got to do to make it to the playoffs and make a good push in the playoffs and we're ready to get started on it.''

Kansas City (4-7), meanwhile, has lost five of seven since the win over San Diego, dropping its fourth straight last Sunday with a 20-17 loss to Oakland. The Chiefs have not lost five in a row since Nov. 5-Dec. 4, 2000.

Despite its slide, Kansas City is still in the battle for the top spot in the weak West, and can secure the tiebreaker over the Chargers with a victory Sunday.

"It puts us in a situation where we have no control. We're in a bad situation right now," Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "To test our character, we're going to have to come out next week and play. I know (San Diego) is not going to feel sorry for us. We need to get our heads up quick and finish out this year and see what happens."

They'll try to find an answer for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who had one of his best games of the season last week, going 25-of-35 for 249 yards and three touchdowns. Rivers didn't throw an interception for just the third time this season.

"I think there are still a lot of things we can clean up and a lot of ways we can get better," said Rivers, who threw for 211 yards and two interceptions in the loss to Chiefs. "We've got to make sure we keep getting better and we keep cleaning little things up so we can get on a roll because there's no room for error at this point.''

Rivers and San Diego can start by focusing on their road play. The Chargers are 1-4 away from Qualcomm Stadium, and three of their final five games are on the road.

They've also had little success in Kansas City, losing two straight and nine of their last 10 at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs have been uncharacteristically struggling at home, however, losing three in a row to drop to 2-4 there. They were a combined 13-3 at Arrowhead the last two seasons, and have not lost four straight home games since Sept. 9-Oct. 25, 2001.

Kansas City has won 19 of its last 20 December games at Arrowhead.

"You'd like to have a home-field advantage, but we haven't created that," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "We have another chance before the season gets away from us."

Edwards' team will get another shot at shutting down San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, something the Chiefs couldn't do in September. Tomlinson rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in that game, and has 331 rushing yards and three TDs in his last two games against Kansas City.

He became the 23rd player in NFL history to rush for 10,000 yards last week, reaching the milestone on a 36-yard run. He finished with 77 yards on 24 carries.

Like his the team, though, Tomlinson is not at his best on the road - especially Arrowhead Stadium.

The reigning NFL MVP has gained just 274 yards on 93 attempts - 2.9 yards per carry - on the road this season. In his last four games at Kansas City, he's managed just 193 yards and two TDs on 63 carries.

Chiefs running back Kolby Smith will get another start Sunday after a stellar performance last week in his first career start.

Smith, a fifth-round pick who had been buried on the depth chart all season, rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders. The rookie successfully filled the void left by the retired Priest Holmes and injured top back Larry Johnson, who's out with an foot problem.

Smith was unable to get an important yard, though, on fourth-and-1 with Kansas City down by three late in the fourth quarter. Edwards elected to go for it rather than try a 41-yard field goal because of lack of confidence in kicker Dave Rayner, who had already missed a 33-yarder. The play lost a yard and the Chiefs never got the ball back.

The Chiefs cut Rayner and signed veteran placekicker John Carney on Tuesday.

Kansas City also faces some uncertainty at quarterback after Brodie Croyle missed practice Wednesday with a sore back, leaving his availability for this game in question. Croyle, who made his second start last week, was kicked in the back early in the game. He played the rest of the game, but has been too sore to do much all week.

If Croyle can't play, veteran Damon Huard will get the start.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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